In the upcoming June wave of
Since BIONICLE’s cancellation in 2010 (and again in 2017), fans have obsessively latched on to any slight reference to the iconic theme in otherbrick-built Tahu for a 90 years of LEGO tribute or just a printed tile featuring a classic BIONICLE canister.
The latest BIONICLE reference, which has been spotted in one of the recently revealed upcoming NINJAGO sets, is a bit more subtle than the others. 71794 Lloyd and Arin’s Ninja Team Mechs features two mechs that, when combined, form an homage to 8755 Keetongu.
Keetongu, who features prominently in the movie Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows, is not a Toa or one of their many enemies. Instead, he is described as an extremely intelligent Rahi (essentially the Matoran word for ‘animal’) and acts as a sort of monk, living in isolation on a frozen mountain until the heroes reach him to ask for guidance.
Aside from his prominence in the overarching BIONICLE story, Keetongu is a popular character because of his iconic design. The abundance of bright light orange pieces that make up his body have caused the colour itself to be nicknamed ‘keet orange’ by LEGO fans. His flat, circular head and singular central eye-stalk have made a serious impression – not just on fans, but also clearly on Niek van Slagmaat, the designer of 71794 Lloyd and Arin’s Ninja Team Mechs.
Slagmaat, who at this point is a prolific LEGO mech designer, has officially spoken up on Twitter about his inspiration for his latest mech two-pack. When asked if the Keetongu inspiration was intentional, he replied, “the eye was a late addition to the model in the process that I may have had up my sleeve for a bit.” The comparisons don’t stop at the mech’s unique head design, though – Arin’s smaller mech that can be added on to Lloyd’s larger mech is made in the classic ‘keet orange’ colour.
So, BIONICLE fans that are chomping at the bit for71794 Lloyd and Arin’s Ninja Team Mechs knowing that 8755 Keetongu served as an inspiration. You can even stretch your imagination a bit to pretend that Lloyd’s mech is indeed an older, greener Keetongu – although Rahi were not usually known to wear Japanese geta sandals.
With the recent BIONICLE gift with purchase and the growing lineup of official BIONICLE references, who knows where the theme is going next. Alternate designs for the GWP as well as ever-present rumours suggest lots of possible paths for the theme to re-emerge, and this newest